Monday, November 28, 2011

The Day After The Sabbath 56: Freedom Of Yore

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TDATS 56 is a collection of bands from Wales, "the land of song". Expecting this to be hard, I was prepared for it take a long time to finish, like the Greek comp did for example. To my surprise it was not a hard task and I was able to wrap up the whole thing in a couple of days, I am very happy with the results! What I have found is that, although the relative number of old Welsh rock bands is low, the quality of them all is consistently great and I did not have the usual arduous task of running through & rejecting tens or hundreds of albums, as each one I discovered had at least one excellent track, in this respect I think it was the easiest regional comp to make so far...

We kick off with one of the more well-known bands on here, "Man", from South Wales' Merthyr Tydfil. Man evolved out of The Bystanders, a successful close harmony pop group. Many of their members went on to other important Welsh bands and this track is so good, sludgy and heavy with unique character. Ancient Grease (aka 'Strawberry Dust') were one of the bands here to share members with Man, including Phil Ryan and John Weathers. Their sole album 'Women And Children First' is one of my all-time favourites and they really do concoct a heavy swirling fug of groove through the whole album, along with awesome gritty vocals. I have made the entire album available here as I think it's one of the essentials, nuff said.

Eyes Of Blue evolved during the mid-sixties from covers and R&B band The Mustangs, based in Neath, and are one of the earliest and most important bands here. They also had later connections to Man and Ancient Grease. A good history (including many of the bands on this comp) can be found here and their last recorded album was made under the alternative moniker "Big Sleep". Here they have two songs including an interesting version of Love's '7 + 7 Is', and they show their diverse mix of sounds, including 60s psych and bluesy riffs. Cardiff's Love Sculpture (1966-70) formed from the remnants of local band "The Human Beans", they played mainly straight-forward blues and released two albums, this track "Nobody's Talking" has a dragging doomy feeling that I love.

After his stint in The Neutrons (who also feature on this comp), Will Youatt joined up with his ex-Quicksand partner James Davies to found Alkatraz and I have used their blues-swaggering track "Nobody Like You". Fair Weather evolved from a split within Amen Corner, they recorded a couple of great albums, with a mix of big band/brass and hard rock, they briefly achieved success with a UK singles chart #6 hit, "Natural Sinner". Brân hailed from Bethesda in North Wales and are the only band here to record in the Welsh language (Cymraeg), their talents included ethereal vocals from Nest Howells, which leant a beautiful folky ambience to tracks like "Y Gwylwyr". Quicksand created one album in 1973, a curious mix of heavy prog, folk and hard rock. I have joined two consecutive tracks here "Overcome the Pattern" & "Flying" to form a sprawling atmospheric trip.

Cardiff's Kimla Taz was noticed as one of the best local bands tipped by their home town heroes Love Sculpture. They later included guitarist Paul Chapman who also features on this comp in Lone Star. They play some catchy 60 style pop psych and never made an album, but have had an archival CD release in recent times. Lone Star (aka 'Iona') are up next and they undoubtedly had plenty of talent, with members who were or would be in Uriah Heep, (the Irish) Skid Row and Budgie to name a few, their vision of a hard rocking southern-tinged sci-fi based sound was a unique one! Newport's Blonde On Blonde moved to London to find their fortune and had some success with performances at festivals like the Isle Of Wight. On a side-note, guitarist Ralph Denyer went on to write the widely-selling 'The Guitar Handbook' which I have a copy of myself!

Cardiff's Sassafras, who featured one-time Love Sculpture drummer Congo Jones, were a hard working band who once held a world record of 332 live performances in one year, and they still occasionally ply their hard bluesrock to this day. The compilation ends with The Neutrons, another branch off from Man, they played early keyboard-heavy proto-prog and the track here 'Snow Covered Eyes' is backed by urgent acoustic guitar, slowly subduing into Rick Wright (rip) stlye ad-libbing, as a fine lead out...

Track List:

01. Man - Spunk Box (1969)
02. Ancient Grease - Eagle Song (1970)
03. Eyes Of Blue - 7 + 7 Is & Inspiration for a New Day (1968)
04. Love Sculpture - Nobody's Talking (1970)
05. Alkatraz - Nobody Like You (1976)
06. Fair Weather - I Hear You Knockin' (1970)
07. Brân - Y Gwylwyr (1975)
08. Quicksand - Overcome the Pattern / Flying (1973)
09. Kimla Taz - Tomorrow (1968)
10. Lone Star - The Ballad Of Crafty Jack (1977)
11. Blonde On Blonde - Ride With Captain Max (1969)
12. Sassafras - Electric Chair [Live @ The BBC] (1977)
13. The Neutrons - Snow Covered Eyes (1974)

Thanks for listening! Rich

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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Day After The Sabbath 55: Barking At The Ants

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Number 55 is another random collection, with plenty of heavy psych, and also hard rock to keep you satisfied, the most commercial sounding (but still little-known) being Chicago's Mariah who seem to have come out of nowhere with a single album and disappeared just as fast, though the six piece group's second guitarist Frank Sullivan found fame several years later with AOR kings Survivor.

Rubber Memory recorded their album on basic equipment in 1970, and the first track here "All Together" is an absolute stormer, quirky, unique, and very heavy in places. The Running Man recorded one album in 1972, most of which is jazz orientated but the eponymous track here is lurching stoner-riff perfection. The Omens are the first of our 60s psych bands here and 'Searching' has a rock-solid insistence to it, with some crazy keyboard improv. Leviathan were a heavy prog band from Memphis who had up to three keyboards playing together and Angel Of Death one of their Uriah Heep-ish heavies.

Headstone made one private album "Still Looking" in 1974, with some great heavy psych that was probably a little behind the times even then, with its growling 60s fuzz guitar sound. The Purple Sun are a bit of an enigma, with unfortunately only this single in existence, but awesome it is with a great theatrical vocal performance backed by big fuzz guitar lines. JPT Scare Band may be known to many of you and "All Lit Up" is from a late (1979) recording that has been re-released by Ripple Music recently, it finds them in a more straight-forward radio friendly mood than their earlier stuff. There is an interesting story that The Dickens were actually the road crew of a band called NRBQ (The New Rhythm and Blues Quartet) who were sent out to play after NRBQ shows holding instruments  they were not familiar with, turned up as loudly as possible, to see what might happen...'Don't Talk About My Music' is one of the results!

Goodthunder created one album in 1972, at first listen it did not reveal too much but I found on repeated listens that it's actually very good, subtleties in the music become apparent and the comp's title track 'Barking At The Ants' has an involving progressive structure with nice heavy hammond. We return to some more pounding heavy psych with White Clover's '(Keep Your People) Dancin', which is taken from a demo tape of this early incarnation of Kansas no less. The compilation ends on an awesome track from the not so obscure Spirit, which I found to have some great heavy transitions along with some spacey keyboard work.

Track List:

01. Rubber Memory - All Together (1970)
02. The Running Man - Running Man (1972)
03. The Omens - Searching (1966)
04. Leviathan - Angel Of Death (1974)
05. Headstone - I Love You (1974)
06. Mariah - Reunion (1975)
07. The Purple Sun - Doomsday (1971)
08. JPT Scare Band - All Lit Up (1979)
09. The Dickens - Don't Talk About My Music (1969)
10. Goodthunder - Barking At The Ants (1972)
11. White Clover - (Keep Your People) Dancin' (1968)
12. Spirit - When I Touch You (1970)

Thanks for listening! Rich

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Day After The Sabbath 54: Late Night Woman Blues

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Number 54 is a collection of heavy blues and blues-inspired tunes, which now makes for three so far; Vol54Vol79 and Vol108. Being the root of what we know as rock music, I figured it was quite an important subject to tackle. This volume has a great age range, featuring one of the oldest tracks I have used so far (1965).

We kick off with a short and brooding instrumental from Booker T. & The MG's. Jones was a child prodigy, playing the oboe, saxophone, trombone, and piano at school and serving as church organist. The band also features Steve Cropper, who was voted in at 36 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Next up is Elias Hulk, a one album band who made some great hard blues and are back in the studio this year for a 2nd album! Better late than never, they follow Iron Claw and Incredible Hog as some great heavy 70s obscurities who have also become active again recently. 

I used a short Moloch track back on Vol11. As a good example of how making these comps has developed my own personal taste, back then I thought there was only one worthy track but on a second look in my recent searches for blues I have realised how great their sole self titled- album from 1970 really is in it's entirety! Band of Light were based in Australia, Phil Key was the founding member, bringing with him Peter Roberts, both being kiwis who were previously in The La De Da's, who I used back on the New Zealand volume.

Arizona's Bliss produced one decent album of bluesy psych in 1969 and Capability Brown from the UK included Roger Flavell, who was later in Christie, a band I used back on Vol12. They excelled in 6-part harmonies and each of the 6 members sung with a different range, as well as all being talented musicians. Not much is known about The Blues Goes On, but they are thought to be one and the same as the "Live Experience Band", a group of West Germans who could imitate The Jimi Hendrix Experience like nobody else, doing covers, and originals like the track here, "Rimmler Blues". 

Moirana were a Danish super group including Ken Gudman from Culpeper's Orchard, who Zischkale used on his Cumulonimbic Rock comp  and they do a great job with the monumental performance of the comp's title track, "Late Night Woman Blues". Olhssons Grova were an obscure Swedish band that did this excellent raw cover of a track written by Rudy Toombs, a productive lyricist and composer of doo-wop songs and rhythm and blues standards during the 1950s and 1960s, which later became more famous when John Lee Hooker covered it in 1966. Arzachel (aka "Uriel") were a band that formed when the core members were all at school together, and eventually included names you may know, Steve Hillage and Dave Stewart who were also later in Gong, and Clive Brooks who went on to drum in Groundhogs. Their track here 'Leg' is an amazing psych-blues monster.

"The New Cactus Band", named in honour of Cactus but strangely containing no members of Cactus, did feature notable musicians such as Captain Beyond's Bobby Caldwell on drums and Iron Butterfly's Mike Pinera. Alabama's Felt made one album in 1969 that skillfully blended hard rock, blues and jazz and Three Souls In My Mind (later "El Tri") are an active Mexican band who were regarded as influential in the development of Mexican rock music. The comp ends with the A-side of a single I used already on Vol50  (my 'dubious' comp), I have since established that the single genuinely is from 1971 and Stone Axe featured two members of Josefus. I must thank Lectriclady for many suggestions on this one including Felt, Elias Hulk, The New Cactus Band and Olhssons Grova.

01. Booker T. & The MG's - Plum Nellie (1965)
02. Elias Hulk - Yesterday's Trip (1970)
03. Moloch - Cocaine Katy / Maverick Woman Blues (1970)
04. Band Of Light - The Cat [B side] (1973)
05. Bliss - Visions (1969)
06. Capability Brown - Keep Death Off The Road (Drive On The Pavement) (1973)
07. The Blues Goes On - Rimmler Blues (1971)
08. Moirana - Late Night Woman Blues (1974)
09. Olhssons Grova - One Bourbon One Scotch And One Beer (1971)
10. Arzachel - Leg (1969)
11. The New Cactus Band - Blue Gypsy Woman (1973)
12. Felt - Weepin' Mama Blues (1971)
13. Three Souls In My Mind - Lennon Blues (1971)
14. Stone Axe - Snakebite (1971)

Thanks for listening! Rich

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